Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
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Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)

Natura morta

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)
Natura morta
signed 'Morandi' (lower right)
oil on canvas
14 x 17 7/8in. (35.5 x 45.4cm.)
Painted in 1952
Galleria del Milione, Milan (no. 6487).
Augusto Giovanardi, Milan.
Galleria del Milione, Milan.
Baldacci-Daverio Gallery, New York (no. 0527).
Galerie Jan Krugier & Cie., Geneva (no. 5083).
Marie-Louise Jeanneret Art Moderne, Geneva.
Franz Armin Morat, Freiburg, by whom acquired from the above in 1978.
Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Stiftung des Bürgerlichen Rechts, Freiburg, by 1983.
Private collection, Verona, by 1999.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
L. Vitali, Morandi, Catalogo generale, vol. II, Milan 1977, no. 805 (illustrated).
F.A. Morat, Giorgio Morandi, Ölbilder, Acuarelle, Zeichnungen, Radierungen, Freiburg 1979, no. 5 (illustrated, p. 15).
Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964): Seine Werke im Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg 1984, no. 7 (referred to as no. 5 in the supplement to this publication).
K. Wilkin, Giorgio Morandi, Barcelona 1997, no. 74 (illustrated, p. 82).
J. Abramowicz, Giorgio Morandi: The Art of Silence, New Haven and London 2004, no. 11.5 (illustrated, with the incorrect date, dimensions and Vitali reference no.).
K. Wilkin, Giorgio Morandi: Works, writings and interviews, Barcelona 2007, p. 100 (illustrated, p. 101).
Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, Giorgio Morandi, October-November 1968, no. 35 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Villand et Galanis, Giorgio Morandi, December 1968-January 1969, no. 30 (illustrated).
Geneva, Galerie Jeanneret, Giorgio Morandi, November 1977-January 1978, no. 8 (illustrated, p. 12).
Geneva, Galerie Jeanneret, Giorgio Morandi, 1978-1979, no. 8 (illustrated, p. 12).
Freiburg, Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Opening Exhibition, Summer 1979-Spring 1981, no. 7.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Giorgio Morandi: Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Radierungen, July-September 1981, no. 57 (illustrated).
Nijmegen, Nijmeegs Museum Commanderie van Sint-Jan, Morandi, April-May 1982, no. 5. This exhibition later travelled to Innsbruck, Tiroler Kunstlerschaft im Kunstpavillon im kleinen Hofgarten.
Bologna, Galleria comunale d'arte moderna, Giorgio Morandi, 1890-1990, Mostra del Centenario, May-September 1990, no. 124 (illustrated, p. 190).
Paris, Galerie Claude Bernard, Giorgio Morandi, Peintures et aquarelles, March - May 1992, no. 25 (illustrated p. 63).
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Morandi, exposición antológica, June-September 1999, no. 52 (illustrated, p. 150). This exhibition later travelled to Valencia, IVAM, Centre Julio González, September-December 1999.
London, Tate Modern, Giorgio Morandi, May-August 2001, no. 16 (illustrated, p. 43). This exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, October 2001-January 2002.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1952, Natura morta is filled with the sense of timelessness and tranquillity that suffuse Giorgio Morandi's enigmatic and absorbing still life pictures. By this time, Morandi had been painting still life scenes for decades. 'What do people look for in my bottles?' Morandi asked Josef Herman the year after Natura morta was painted. 'It is already forty years since I looked for some element of classical quiet and classical purity, a moral guidance perhaps more than an aesthetic one' (J. Herman, 'A Visit to Morandi', pp. 26-27, in L. Klepac, Giorgio Morandi: the dimension of inner space,, Sydney, 1997, p. 27). Morandi appears to have sought a form of pictorial refuge, to create a pool of calm and contemplation in his still life scenes. While he was always at pains to insist that he did not wish to impose any politics, any views or any artistic conceptualism on anyone else, he nonetheless captured and translated an intensely poetic and deliberately universal atmosphere of mystery in his figurative pictures. Natura morta provides solace not only for the painter, but also for the viewer.

Morandi was willing to admit that he had focussed on one subject for most of his life and even jokingly referred, while talking to the critic Giuseppe Raimondi, of his works showing, 'my usual things. You know them. They are always the same. Why should I change them? They work pretty well. Don't you think?' (Giorgio Morandi, quoted in K. Wilkin, Giorgio Morandi: Works, Writings and Interviews, Barcelona, 2007, p. 31). However, this was disingenuous on his part: his style had gradually changed and evolved over the years, as is visible in his pictures from the 1950s, especially when compared to the more rigid, solidly delineated works from the 1920s. In Natura morta, the objects and the background have been captured with an intensely pared-back simplicity that allows the various forms to teeter on the brink of abstraction. Interestingly Morandi, while painting pictures that appear conservative in scope, remained fascinated by artistic developments and the avant garde movements of his day. Here, the variations of colour of the objects themselves, which are situated within the larger context of a table and wall that have been rendered with an incredibly deft, restrained geometrical Ellsworth Kelly-like minimalism, result in a profound harmony. Clustered together, these objects appear to mimic the forms of the castles of Italy, becoming like an aerial landscape in its perspective. Morandi is encouraging the viewer to see even the most humble objects of our everyday domestic existence from a new angle, revealing some of the miraculous and all too frequently ignored mysteries of the universe that permeate every layer of our lives.

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